Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe, so too did shifts across some digital marketing and digital PR quarters. These shifts also brought about unexpected changes for marketers, many of which are critical to the future success of the businesses they represent.

After the pandemic struck, eCommerce traffic this spring was higher than past holiday spikes, including previous Black Fridays and other holiday promotions. Between March and June, digital traffic rose an average of 36 percent across every sector, according to a Traffic Analytics study by digital marketing software company SEMrush. Home/garden, food/groceries and sport/outdoors showed the biggest jumps, averaging 40 to 50 percent for the same period a year earlier.

To digital marketers, the traffic increase is encouraging. However, understanding where the numbers came from, what they mean and how to leverage that knowledge are different matters. According to SEMrush, 70 percent of all eCommerce site visits came from mobile traffic. This makes it even more important that brands optimize for mobile to improve their conversions. Another 60 percent of traffic is direct, highlighting the important roles customer loyalty and brand recognition play in online shopping. The fashion, health and beauty sectors saw the most traffic with an average 60 percent increase.

Online advertising remains important to attract new customers. In the U.S., 30 percent of brands spend an average of $1,000 monthly, while larger brands were initially between $150,000 to more than $1 million. Most of those budgets were cut as the pandemic continued and resulted in lower ad costs. The silver lining is that it resulted in lower costs per click.

One successful trigger in prompting calls to action has been free shipping. 32 percent of the eCommerce ads studied promoted this. Letting consumers know that free returns were available was also prominent on many sites.

Adding targeted qualifiers like “vet recommended” for the pet sector or “limited edition” in the health, beauty and home/garden sectors were also popular. Urgent indicators like “shop latest” or “new arrivals” were employed in 26 percent of ads surveyed.

As unclear as the future may appear, one thing is certain. Life and eCommerce will never be the same as it was. Looking forward, strategies and goals must focus on building traffic volume, targeting and tailoring paid traffic, and doing whatever is necessary to optimize for branded searches.

Knowing and analyzing competition will be important. As much as we think we know it all, the competition sometimes comes up with better ideas. One key area to inspect are the keywords they’re bidding on. Consider bidding on some branded keywords as long as they’re not copyrighted. How much does the competition seem to be spending on digital marketing, and where are most of it being invested? Does anything in their ads spark other ideas?

If new keywords are acquired, incorporate them into all relevant places like headlines, body copy, and product descriptions, so they’re more likely to be discovered by search engines and consumers.

By being agile and adapting to change, brands will be better able to survive in our new normal and succeed going forward.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of leading PR agency 5WPR.